x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Irish now eye French Six Nations match with confidence

A rout of Italy has Ireland full of confidence ahead of their rescheduled match against tournament favourites France.

Ireland's Rory Best cannot be tackled as Italy fell at Aviva Stadium on Saturday in their Six Nations match.
Ireland's Rory Best cannot be tackled as Italy fell at Aviva Stadium on Saturday in their Six Nations match.

 

Dublin // Paul O'Connell believes Ireland's chances of triumphing in Paris next weekend have improved following a 42-10 Six Nations victory Saturday over Italy.

The Irish return to the Stade de France next Sunday after the original fixture was postponed due to a frozen pitch.

Rather than face Les Bleus on the back of a dispiriting defeat by Wales, as was the case two weeks ago, they meet the championship favourites having routed Italy five tries to one.

"It's great to get that result going to Paris, so we're probably in a better place than we were the last time we went over," said O'Connell, the Ireland captain. "It's a good scoreline, there's no doubt about it. The guys are happy with that. There's feeling of frustration over the first-half performance and a few of the things we didn't execute. But when we did get out of our half we were good and confident.

"We took our chances well and kept going at them for 80 minutes, which we haven't always done. We have a lot of excellent and classy players, and we took our tries well, which was satisfying. It was a good, patient performance."

Tommy Bowe crossed twice while Keith Earls, Tom Court and Andrew Trimble also touched down in perfect conditions as Ireland avoided a fourth successive defeat at Aviva Stadium.

The end result was emphatic but the performance against a disappointing Italy side was far from perfect.

Declan Kidney, the coach, praised his side's ambition but accepted it must be reined in on occasion.

"We did some simple things well. In the second half we put away our scores very well and we're delighted with that," he said. "There was a bit of wearing down that had to be done in the first 50 minutes, as there are in all Test matches.

"We could probably have done a little more of that in their half rather than ours, but I can't fault the boys for trying to play.

"We had the courage to play, but what we need to do is get the balance right. That comes with playing together and the more time we spend together the better we'll become.

"But can't go away thinking everything's great just because we scored a few late tries."

Jacques Brunel, the Italy coach, conceded the Azzurri paid the price for a poor second-half display that saw Ireland run in three of their five tries.

"We had two different teams out there. In the first half we tried to play and kept the score close," said the Frenchman.

"But, in the second half, it was completely different. We suffered beneath the Irish pressure and made many mistakes."